HOUSTON – The 50th anniversary of “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” was commemorated Tuesday evening in the US city of Houston, highlighting the importance of promoting mutual understanding and friendship between China and the United States through sports.
The event, titled ‘Celebrating the past for a better future’, was co-hosted by the US National Committee on US-China Relations, the USA Table Tennis and the Chinese Table Tennis Association, along with Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang. and former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger among the keynote speakers.
Fifty years ago, the story of “a small ball moving the big ball” heralded the normalization of relations between China and the US, and profoundly changed the international political landscape, Qin said in a pre-recorded video address before the event.
The Chinese diplomat also expressed his hope that “the strategic vision, political courage and friendship of the people that was reflected in the ‘Ping-Pong Diplomacy’ at the time” could help bring the big ball of the relations between China and the US. to help forward.
Fifty years ago, the US table tennis team was invited by its Chinese counterpart to visit China at the end of the 31st World Championships in Nagoya, Japan. The American players landed in Beijing on April 10, 1971, becoming the first American group to visit China since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Chinese team returned the following year.
In his video comments, Kissinger noted that about 50 years ago, the exchange of American and Chinese table tennis players “went on in spectacular fashion” and “made a great contribution” to fostering bilateral ties, adding that it is important to realize that “Even seemingly fringe events can contribute to international understanding and peace between two great nations.”
Tuesday’s event, which drew more than 150 in attendance, also included a friendly match between table tennis communities from China and the United States.
“In 1971, the US team accepted an invitation to visit the People’s Republic of China. International headlines call table tennis the sport that changed the world,” said Susanne Lyons, the president of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
“The new era in relations between our two countries is sending a message of peace that resonates around the world,” Lyons said.